Case study

Envision graduate goes 'back to school' to support Year 10 cohort

When young people or staff leave Envision, they don’t seem to stay away for long… there’s a kind of magic which means that you never really ‘leave’ or ‘graduate’ as Envision's door is always open. Think of it as the Envision boomerang effect! That’s why we were thrilled when Diem Pham, a former Envision student, signed up with Birmingham’s Key Stage 4 programme as part of EWR Alliance’s partnership with Hamstead Hall Academy. We caught up with Diem to find out about time with Envision – both as a young person and a professional!

Tell us about your Envision experience when you were at school?

I remember Envision being mentioned at the school assembly and asked if I could attend the sessions and take part. Growing up I had a great group of friends but was still shy and awkward when it came to taking part in activities and shows at school – I wanted to take part but didn’t have the courage and confidence. Doing Envision gave me that confidence. As for the sessions, I remember the feeling of empowerment and being in control of our task.

What social issue did you choose to tackle and what was your project?

Our project was about bringing people together. The entire team each filled a wooden frame with objects that were important to them, be it photos of family or friends, paraphernalia that depicted hobbies or personal interests, even possessions held dear. Using the frames, we created a wall in our school which showcased our work and was viewable from both sides. The purpose of our exhibition was to encourage and spark conversation and so the act of exhibiting our passions and interests allowed others to bond over their own. This meant that people’s differences – race, religion, opinions – were celebrated and were used as a vehicle for togetherness in the community. 

How do you think Envision helped you develop as a young person?

As I was quite a shy person growing up, taking part in Envision gave me the confidence to put myself forward for other opportunities that came up at school that I was interested in. From the programme I had learnt that in order to achieve what I wanted – I had to put the effort in and get stuck in. I’ve had to work on my confidence a lot over the years as it wasn’t something that came to me overnight. I worked on it gradually and Envision really helped. We had to present our project - the framed wall - and explain the individual items we had chosen to include and our reasons why. This session in particular stands out as having helped me with my public speaking skills. Throughout the exhibition I had to explain to adults and peers my reasons for including certain items and why I was passionate about them. This pushed me outside of my comfort zone and looking back, this really helped my confidence to grow.

How did you get involved with Envision at your workplace?

Envision was advertised by our Social Value Manager Danny in August and I expressed my interest then, immediately signing up to get involved.

Why was it important for you to become a Business Mentor with Envision after completing the programme yourself as a young person?

It was chance becoming a Business Mentor. My team wanted to take part in Envision seeing it as a great programme to support. Especially with our [EWR Alliance] presence in Birmingham we wanted to support the community the best we could. Personally, I wanted to help make a difference, when I look back on my sessions with Envision nothing but positive thoughts come to mind and it was part of what kick started me into joining other groups and programmes to widen my experience.

Describe the experience of working with young people from Envision in your workplace?

I was part of the planning stage before the students came to the office. I promoted the students’ fundraising event throughout our building through posters and speaking to colleagues in the office about Envision and the young people’s project. On the day I gathered staff which enabled the young people to deliver their presentation to a large adult audience. Staff then took part in the fundraising activities that the young people had set up for the event. I would love to take part again and when the opportunity comes round again, it’s a definite “yes!” from me.

Diem Pham is Communications Assistant at EWR Alliance.